I am not sure how many reviews I will be doing on this blog. I guess it depends a little on whether I get any feedback from it and people seem interested in them. I suppose there are plenty of people doing reviews already. I only recently got this deck and as it was released in April 2018, I thought why not.
The first thing I want to say about this deck is that it is created by an artist called Renata Lechner and that it is the second deck in a planned trilogy of tarot decks. The first one was released in 2015 and is called the Thelema Tarot (it has nothing to do with Aleister Crowley’s religion. It’s similar in name only. It doesn’t even follow Crowley’s swaps for the Thoth deck). The Arcanum was recently released in 2018 and a third deck called the “Millennium Thot Tarot” is due to be released either in 2019 or 2020. It is therefore difficult not to compare them to each other and talk a little bit about both decks released thus far. The review is meant for the Arcanum Tarot, but most of what I say here will be applicable for the Thelema Tarot as well.
I don’t know anything about Renata Lechner or any of her ideas around the tarot, so this review will be based on how I experience the deck and my own tarot knowledge.
Arcanum Tarot, as the Thelema Tarot, comes with a neat little box that protect the cards. It is definitely a nice upgrade from most other decks which only get a simple box. This box offers some additional protection for the cards and it looks quite nice too. It also comes with a small color-printed booklet with brief meanings of the card meanings written by Jaymi Elford. You don’t get this deck for the booklet though. I don’t find it descriptive enough to be of any particular interest, but could be of use if you need to be guided to what you see on the images.
The artwork was what brought the Thelema tarot to my attention and the Arcanum tarot continues the trilogy in a similar style. Visually they look quite similar to each other. Both are borderless with the title of the card neatly situated at the bottom of the card. and have rich colorful style with almost photo realistic images. The cardback has a nice design, but I don’t think it is meant to symbolize anything in particular. I think it is just a fantasy design that looks quite cool. At least, it doesn’t tell me anything.
I think the artwork is the main strength of this deck. Most of the images are really beautiful with a nice colorful and glossy print.And I think I prefer the artwork in the Thelema deck slightly over this one. The aesthetics of both the decks give me a slight feminine vibe, which I think is the case with a lot of visually pleasing tarot decks.
For some of the cards that might even be an issue. They can perhaps be a little too beautiful when they are supposed to communicate a little bit more of their raw energy, but generally it is not too much of a problem.
Neither the Thelema Tarot or Arcanum Tarot have the esoteric symbols added on to them. There is space to add them yourself if you want, but I am not a fan of adding my own ugly handwriting to my cards.
It seems to be based on the traditional Rider-Waite Smith symbolism and the cards have the same names and numberings as in that deck.
The images here are a little different from the Rider-Waite Smith deck and that makes it a little bit more difficult at times to capture the essence of the cards. Subtle differences can sometimes make a significant impact on how the cards are being perceived. Some cards are also quite far from the traditional images
If you are very familiar with the Rider-Waite Smith you will recognize them though, but it also means that you probably need that Rider-Waite Smith knowledge in place already to use this deck properly.
If you already have the Thelema tarot, and you like that one. I would consider getting this deck too. If you don’t already own the Thelema tarot, I would probably consider getting that one first. Not only is it the first deck in the trilogy, but I also think its imagery is a little bit better.
The beautiful artwork is the main reason to get any of those two decks. They’re both not great for symbolism, but it works quite ok if you already are familiar with Rider-Waite Smtih.
Big plus for the nice box that comes with it. Definitely something more publishers should be doing and it saves you from buying extra tarot pouches.
The card quality is also good and I am not afraid to use these cards (just don’t put them under your pillow while sleeping).
Another idea, that I guess some tarot purists will hate, would be to take the favorite cards from each deck of the trilogy and put them together to your own super-deck with the cards that resonate the most with you. They are all the same size, so it would work.
Overall I am glad to have both Thelema Tarot and Arcanum Tarot in my collection. As the decks are both visually pleasing I find that they are great for tarot contemplation sessions for those cards that I think capture their essence in a great way.